Summer Movie Preview: Super-Sized Action, Dauntless Debuts, and Incredible Comebacks

After a spring season of breakout hits, dismal comedies, and a handful of misguided would-be blockbusters, the summer has finally arrived. Even as superhero fatigue looms, and the age of countless reboots and sequels continues, the coming months are filled to the brim with thrilling cinematic endeavors all thirsting for the top spot at the box-office. From long-awaited sequels like Incredibles 2 to neon-tinted set-pieces like Hotel Artemis, here are the top films to keep an eye out for this summer season:




Animated Comebacks & Adventurous Aftermaths:

The Incredibles 2 - Rolling out nearly fourteen years after the release of the first Incredibles film, Pixar's bold sequel has been floating around Hollywood for far too long as fans of the animated hit have been yearning for a follow-up. Setting up right after the first film concluded, the Parr family leaps back into action, this time with Holly Hunter's Elastigirl at the forefront. Showcasing the continued fight to bring superheroes back into the spotlight, as numerous new enemies begin to crop up, director Brad Bird aims to pitch a compelling sequel to his knock-out feature, one that will hopefully be more lasting than Finding Dory.

Ant-Man and the Wasp - As the aftermath of April's Avengers: Infinity War still lies in the balance, the latest Marvel endeavor finds itself free of the grasp of Thanos (for now) as July's Ant-Man and the Wasp is set to pitch a small-scale adventure before all hell breaks loose. With the sequel situating itself after the events of Captain America: Civil War, the continuation of Scott Lang's (Paul Rudd) story as micro-hero Ant-Man aspires to craft a new dynamic duo with the introduction of Evangeline Lilly as the Wasp. Tackling everything from disappearing villains to secrets from the past, the light-hearted superhero tale could make for a fun break from the earth-shattering gloom set to come.





Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom - After a fairly entertaining return to the world of Jurassic Park in 2015's Jurassic World, the dinosaurs and the dangers that come with them are back this summer in this month's Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. With Chris Pratt's charismatic lead back for another deadly adventure on the island of Isla Nublar, the sequel from director J. A. Bayona seeks to bring the franchise back to its roots. From its classic horror elements to even some original characters like Jeff Goldblum's snarky Ian Malcolm, Fallen Kingdom could bring the action-packed series to new and exciting heights, or simply retread familiar ground.


Fiery Fallouts & High-Stakes Gambles:

Mission: Impossible - Fallout - Even at number six, the Mission: Impossible franchise seems to still to be full-steam ahead as it continues to up its action-fueled espionage premise. As star Tom Cruise steadily nears the big 6-0, the stunts of the series have become just as iconic as its star power. Still, the franchise has maintained a certain maturity to its spy storytelling that often places it above other mindless tentpole blockbusters (*cough* *cough* Fast & Furious). With its latest adventure pitting top agent Ethan Hunt against enemies and allies from his past, July's Fallout will surely be the summer's biggest moneymaker.



Ocean's 8 - From the director of The Hunger Games, the latest female-led spin-off from a once-successful franchise finds itself in this month's Ocean's 8. A heist film in the vein of Steven Soderbergh's Ocean's Trilogy, one that vaguely tethers itself to the trilogy's central characters and premise, Ocean's 8 seeks to spawn a new audience from fans still yearning for a return to Soderbergh's quick-wit realm of high-risk crime. While the film might not retain the acclaim of its preceding trio of films, its star-studded cast in Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Rihanna and Sarah Paulson definitely promise a charismatic ensemble.

The Catcher Was a Spy - While Tom Cruise and a slew of charming female crooks might be set to lead a summer of espionage, another feature rolling out within the genre is this month's The Catcher Was a Spy. Situating a stellar cast -- including Paul Rudd, Mark Strong, Sienna Miller, and Jeff Daniels -- against a compelling narrative of baseball-legend-turned-spy Moe Berg, the World War II drama looks to be the next Bridge of Spies. While it might not have the appeal of filmmaker Steven Spielberg at its side, its attractive cast, as well as its fascinating premise, could make it a sleeper spy hit for the summer.

  

Drug-Fueled Follow-Ups & Straightforward Set-Pieces:

Sicario: Day of the Soldado - While this month might be stuffed full already with superheroes, dinosaurs and massive gambles, the month ends its run with yet another bold sequel seeking to make waves for the summer. While I somewhat overlooked 2015's Sicario, the drug-fueled thriller not leaving any kind of lasting impact on me despite its critical success, its sequel in Day of the Soldado still might draw fans in with both its cast and its screenplay. With writer Taylor Sheridan returning, as well as stars Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin, the film aims to draw out del Toro's anti-hero from the first film in a premise that could have surprising potential.

Tag - If Hollywood has proved anything in recent memory, it's that a movie can be made about almost anything these days -- even something so minimal as a game of tag. With this month's Tag unleashing a star-studded game full of action-packed surprises, the all-to-true story of five friends entangled in a 23-year-long game of tag seeks to steal out the summer with its mindless yet potentially promising premise. While its cast is nothing to gripe about, a slew of comedic names led by an elusive Jeremy Renner, Tag could still hold enough high-octane antics to leave its mark this season.

  

Skyscraper - Taking a break from his latest outings in the Fast & Furious franchise, and seeking to latch yet another blockbuster title onto his belt, mega-star Dwayne Johnson finds himself scaling new heights in the Die Hard-esque thriller of July's Skyscraper. In the vein of classic action set pieces like the former, Johnson's latest pitches a somewhat simplistic premise, oscillating around a chaotic collection of massive life-or-death scenarios. While its director choice in We're the Millers and DodgeBall's Rawson M. Thurber might be a peculiar one, given the action-thriller nature of the film, the sheer star-power of Johnson could be enough to keep this project in the air.     


Undaunted Thrillers & Neo-Noir Gunplay:

Hotel Artemis - From the writer behind Iron Man 3 and Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation, this month's Hotel Artemis seeks to introduce us to the latest seedy, neo-noir thriller to hit the big screen. Easily one of the most intriguing sleeper hits set to heat up the summer, Hotel Artemis packs in a delightful cast of criminals in a premise that could have plenty of unexpected potential. While its plot of a secret hotel for the future's most vile criminal underworld might not be the most original thing to crop up this year, the ballsy thriller's cast in Jodie Foster, Jeff Goldblum, and Sterling K. Brown might be appealing enough.


How to Talk to Girls at Parties - What could easily be an Edgar Wright film on acid, albeit a little more rough around the edges, the latest adaption of author Neil Gaiman's work finds itself in May's How to Talk to Girls at Parties. With the zany sci-fi rom-com taking us to the 1970s London punk scene to spin a oddball premise of teenage aliens, the film seems like the perfect summer feature to spark some noise, and then quickly fade to obscurity. While it might not look too memorable when set up against the major blockbusters of the season, the peculiar comedy might sustain some enjoyment from those, like myself, who love uncovering the smaller projects with some bite to their name.     


Kin - The late summer release of August's science-fiction thriller Kin came at a bit of a surprise, as the first trailer for the film popped up suddenly during a showing of Avengers: Infinity War. An ambitious plot that blends crime lords with otherworldly weaponry, the feature from directors Jonathan and Josh Baker looks to string together a compelling cast in effort to craft a Spielberg-esque adventure. With a cunning James Franco as its antagonist, and young star Myles Truitt at the center of the action, Kin could be one of the summer's biggest surprises.



Audacious Indie Debuts & Psychedelic Murder Mysteries:

Hot Summer Nights - After he quickly ignited into somewhat of a teen sensation following his role in Greta Gerwig's Lady Bird, and more recently Luca Guadagnino's Call Me by Your Name, young actor Timothée Chalamet is set to headline another coming-of-age drama in July's Hot Summer Nights. From director Elijah Bynum, in his directorial debut, the film pitches a sun-drenched premise of drug-dealing teens and scorching adolescence in what could be a riveting indie effort to shake up the summer season.

Eighth Grade - From writer/director Bo Burnham, one of the rising faces of the stand-up comedy scene, comes his first venture into filmmaking with July's Eighth Grade. With stand-out lead Elsie Fisher journeying through her last week of middle school in the latest charming satire of the coming-of-age to grace the silver screen, the A24-produced feature looks to be another highly-enjoyable portrait of adolescence. In what could be the breakout indie hit of the season, Bo Burnham's take on the anxieties of growing up will surely be on my radar. 




Under the Silver Lake - In the vein of Shane Black's Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, a psychedelic crime-comedy with enough twists and turns to go around, It Follows filmmaker David Robert Mitchell reins in a similarly-likable and intriguing cast for his own bold thriller Under the Silver Lake. Released under the label A24, the distribution company that's been killing it in the independent genre since 2013, the zany caper aims to put actor Andrew Garfield back in the awards spotlight, while also delivering a no-holds-barred mystery. Full of shady billionaires, urban myths, and one dazed performance from Garfield, Mitchell's latest looks like the perfect film to lose yourself in this summer.


Childhood Fantasies & Monstrous Vacations:

Disney's Christopher Robin - Just a few months after the release of the rather well-casted origin of Winnie-the-Pooh creator A. A. Milne in last year's Goodbye Christopher Robin, another feature is set to highlight the stuffed bear and his pals, this time with a more fictional approach. While the former origin tale sought to spin a historical drama surrounding the character's creator in England, Disney's take on the tale reimagines the premise as we find an older Christopher Robin uncovering his childhood imagination once more when he encounters Pooh and Company. While the film doesn't look like the most ambitious of Disney's recent reboots, it could still pull the heartstrings enough to make for a late summer hit.



Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation - Even while many animated franchises tend to lose much of their appeal by the third installment, most notably in the lackluster Despicable Me 3, something still has me drawn to the third Hotel Transylvania feature, out next month. While the reception of actor Adam Sandler might still be dwindling, as his work continues to fade from the spotlight, his headlining role as Count Dracula still manages to keep the film's remaining cast of celebrities in line. With its third chapter finally escaping the hotel for a much-needed vacation, while the gags will surely be familiar, the crisp animation might still bring me in to bask in the idiocracy of the film's classic monster ensemble.   


Bleak Horror Origins & Unsettling Family Values:

The First Purge - Within the ranks of modern horror debuts, The Purge series that began with the 2013 box-office hit has matured into one of the top players out to scare. While the franchise, now looking to release its fourth chapter in the July prequel The First Purge, might rely on its drawn-out dystopian premise rather than inventive scares, the series still seems to be prospering. With its latest taking a peek behind the origins of its titular sociological experiment of a crime-fueled night without any degree of law and order, The First Purge will be the latest trial to see just how far the franchise can stretch its bleak premise.  

  


Hereditary - In the vein of other slow-burn horror efforts from A24 like The Witch and It Comes at Night, the debut feature from director Ari Aster in this month's Hereditary already seems to be scaring its way to the top of the box-office. With its premise sure to have some bite, telling of a family haunted by their reclusive grandmother, the unsettling nature of the film and its escalation towards a slew of disturbing revelations amongst its small cast will surely make Hereditary one of the lasting horror hits of the season.


With that, what is your most anticipated film of the summer? Let me know your top ten summer must-see movies in the comments below. Stay tuned all summer long for my latest reviews and other film/television related content coming soon!
  

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